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Ukraine claims slow gains in 'fierce' Bakhmut battle

AFP |
Jun 29, 2023 02:26 PM IST

Russian forces, aided by fighters from the Wagner mercenary group, announced their capture of Bakhmut in May.

Kyiv said Thursday that its forces were making slow gains around Bakhmut and were engaging in "fierce" fighting with Russian forces around the embattled east Ukraine town.

An aerial view of Bakhmut, the site of the heaviest battles with the Russian troops in the Donetsk region. (AP)

"We have advances near Bakhmut and are continuing. We are moving," the commander of Ukraine's ground forces, Oleksandr Syrskyi, said in a post on social media.

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Russian forces, aided by fighters from the Wagner mercenary group, announced their capture of Bakhmut in May after months of gruelling warfare for the now-destroyed town that once was home to some 80,000 people.

Ukrainian forces have since been posting painstaking grains around the flanks of the city after announcing a highly-anticipated counter-offensive earlier this month.

Deputy Defence Minister Ganna Malyar separately said Thursday that Ukrainian forces had seized the "operational advantage" around Bakhmut and were on the offensive.

"Our troops are gnawing away at every meter of the enemy's land in this fierce battle," she said in a statement, adding: "They are making progress".

"The enemy is trying to hold their positions, conducting counter-attacks but is gradually retreating after suffering losses".

The Russian defence ministry has not recently conceded any lost ground around Bakhmut and said in its latest military briefing that it was repelling Ukrainian attacks in the eastern Donetsk region.

The complete capture of the industrial territory is now Moscow's main military goal in the invasion launched last February and the Kremlin has claimed Donetsk and three other Ukraine regions are part of Russia.

Moscow said last week that Ukrainian forces were taking advantage of an aborted uprising by Wagner forces inside Russia to prepare attacks around Bakhmut.

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